May the Bot Be With You: How Algorithms are Supporting Happiness at WordPress.com

A summary of recent NLP work to enhance support happiness.

Data for Breakfast

Our excellent support is a big part of what makes WordPress.com a compelling platform for so many. Each month, we respond to 60,000 support requests on topics ranging from plugins to mapping existing domains to WordPress.com. Some questions arise several times daily, while others require novel solutions from our Happiness Engineers who have a deep understanding of our products, a skill for asking the right questions, a commitment to support, inventiveness, and creativity.

Recently, in looking at how machine learning and natural language processing could be useful to Happiness Engineers (HEs) in responding to support questions, we discovered two places where these technologies offer value.

First, our Happiness Engineers often rely on tried and true responses to some of the more straightforward questions. We call these pre-defined responses predefs. Many HEs develop personal favorites, and some predefs eventually become part of our best practices based on their ability to succinctly express…

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Welcoming New Colleagues — a Data-Based Story

One of the many reasons it’s a joy to work at Automattic

Data for Breakfast

With over 545 employees spread over more than 50 countries, Automattic is one of the largest distributed companies in the world.

Being distributed means that we, as Automatticians, work on our common goal to democratize publishing from wherever we wish. It also means that we heavily rely on online communication.

Besides providing flexibility, working in a distributed company brings challenges when you meet in person. Does X from team I/O appreciate informal humor?What is the hobby of Y, a member of the Happiness Engineering team?Does Z, our team’s HR person, smile a lot or only when taking a gravatar picture? The answers to these questions are trivial to get in a “traditional” company but not in a distributed environment.

However, this information is critical. It helps us relate to one another and form strong relationships that nourish creativity and cooperation. If the challenge doesn’t seem hard enough to…

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